09 May 2014

Subic pushing for more shipping trade

The port of Subic is aiming to take in more containerized- and bulk-cargo shipments to help relieve congestion in Manila ports and is now offering better terms for port users in Central and Northern Luzon.

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman Roberto Garcia said on Monday that both the government and the business community have to consider using the Subic Bay Freeport as an alternative to Manila because it provides a decidedly comparative advantage.

“Subic is 30-percent cheaper than Manila in terms of overall costs and offers a better turnaround time so it’s more advantageous, all-in,” he said. Garcia added that the Subic advantage is more apparent now that the daytime truck ban in the city has resulted to some problems in the transportation of goods to and from Manila piers.

“From a national point of view, we really have to utilize the ports of Subic and Batangas to help decongest Manila. Inefficient transportation translates to increased costs, and these are eventually passed on to consumers,” Garcia said.

The SBMA official said a study made by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) had shown that of the 2.8 million containers arriving in the Port of Manila annually, some 450,000 of these go to various destinations in Central and Northern Luzon.

“So why do these shipments have to pass through Manila when Subic is nearer?” he asked.

Garcia said Subic has a total of 14 piers and wharves that can accommodate containerized and bulk shipments, including grains and petroleum products. The port also has warehouses and related logistics facilities.

He said the shipping firm Delgado Brothers is proposing to put up a “super shuttle” barge system that would bring shipments bound for Manila to Subic where they would be off-loaded, sorted and properly taxed.

This pass-through scheme, Garcia said, would enable shippers to off-load cargoes faster since the barging from Manila to Subic would just take four hours.

As of now, Garcia said a lot of big players, especially exporters with shipping deadlines, are looking at Subic to see how they can ship their cargoes here.

Among those recently shifting shipment through the Subic Freeport is Yokohama Tires Philippines Inc., an export-manufacturer based in nearby Clark Freeport.

Aside from the SBMA, the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), a government agency overseeing the development of former military bases in the country, and the private sector-led Export Development Council (EDC), have been pushing for the diversion of cargo traffic to Subic and the Port of Batangas.

In March EDC Vice Chairman Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. said the Port of Manila is “operating beyond its capacity” and called for the diversion of foreign cargo to ports outside Manila.

In December 2012 the BCDA also endorsed JICA’s policy mix to decongest port and road traffic in Manila by diverting some shipment to the underutilized Subic and Batangas ports. ( Henry EmpeƱo, BusinessMirror)